Corporate Athlete 101: Breakfast

Here is the first question in a series I’ve received from Jeremy Jauncey.  The following Q&A will be used in the nutrition 101 package for our corporate athlete plan.

“What should we eat when we wake and why? Essentially, what should make up the perfect nutritionally balanced breakfast? What would kick-start your brain, metabolism, muscles, blood flow, immune system?”


Eat Breakfast Soon After Waking Up.

Any activity you do (even brushing teeth) uses energy fast. The body requires lots more energy to function at an intellectual and physical level than it needs to sleep.  Having breakfast within the hour of waking helps keep glucose levels stable, both in the bloodstream and in the brain– this allows your cognitive juices to flow!

Eating Breakfast Increases Metabolism?

Eating anything increases something called the thermic effect of food– the energy needed to digest food.  It is only 10% of our total expenditure, but this means breakfast will increase metabolism (the rate at which we burn energy).

My Muscles are Hungry.

Athletes don’t skip meals.  They know their working muscles need a steady flow of calories to stay lean.  Although counterintuitive, skipping breakfast produces the opposite effect: studies (many, many studies) have shown that skipping leads to weight GAIN, a higher Body Mass Index (BMI), and the likelihood to binge or overeat later on in the day.

Choose complex carbohydrates, protein, fat and fruits (and/or) veggies.

From an energy standpoint, eating a combination from all of the above food categories provides “the perfect nutritionally balanced breakfast.”  Here are fast facts and quantities to consume for each food category:

Complex Carbohydrates: Carbs feed the brain, have lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Carbs also raise blood glucose less rapidly (versus simple sugars, which are readily absorbed by the blood stream and raise glucose levels rapidly).

  • Breakfast time: Aim for 1-2 servings of complex carbohydrates (1 serving: 1 slice of whole wheat bread, ½ whole grain bagel, 1 whole wheat English muffin, 1 cup whole grain dry cereal, ½ cup of cooked cereal (oatmeal), ¼ cup of granola, ¼ cup of brown rice)

Protein: Protein feeds your organs, tissues and muscles.  Protein also remains inside the stomach longer than carbs, which allows your body to feel fuller for longer.

  • Breakfast time: Aim for 1-2 servings of protein (1 cup yogurt, 1 cup milk or soy milk, 1 ounce of cheese, 1 egg, 2 ounces smoked salmon, 2 tablespoons nut butter or ¼ cup of nuts/seeds, ½ cup cottage cheese)

Fat: Fat feeds your hair, skin, nails, and organs.  Fat comes in both unsaturated and saturated forms (we want the majority of our fat to come from unsaturated types).  Like protein, fat stays in the stomach longer than carbs, which allows your body to feel fuller for longer.

  • Breakfast time: Aim for 1-2 servings of fat (unsaturated: 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, ¼ cup avocado, ¼ cup olives, ¼ cup of nuts/seeds; saturated: 1 teaspoon butter, 1 tablespoon cream cheese)
  • NOTE: if your protein and carbohydrate source already contains fat, you do not need to add extra

Vegetables & Fruit: “Anti-oxidants” are compounds that protect our immune system (they literally kill the “pollutants,” better known as free radicals, that float around our body).  Eating fruits and veggies at breakfast is how you can add the majority of fiber, vitamins and minerals to your morning meal.  Since we need 5-9 servings per day, eating fruits and vegetables in the morning is a great way to knock off a few servings early on.

  • Breakfast time: Aim for 1-2 servings (½ cup cooked non-starchy vegetable, 1 cup raw vegetable, 1 medium piece of fruit, 1 cup cut fruit, ¼ cup dried fruit, 6 oz fruit juice, 1 cup vegetable juice)

Sample Energizing Breakfasts at Next Jump

Breakfast
Equivalent
½ cup of cooked cereal (oatmeal)
1 cup of 1 percent fat milk
1 hard-boiled whole egg
1 cup of cut strawberries
1 serving of complex carbohydrates
2 servings of protein (egg and milk)
2 servings of fat (egg and milk)
2 servings of fruit
1 cup 2% Fage yogurt
1 cup cut berries
½ cup granola
1 serving of protein
1 serving of fat (from yogurt)
2 servings of fruit
2 servings of complex carbohydrates
½ bagel
1 T of cream cheese
2 ounces of smoked salmon
½ cup of sliced tomatoes
1 serving of complex carbohydrates
1 serving of fat
1 serving of protein
1 serving of vegetables
2 pieces of whole wheat toast
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 medium banana
2 servings of complex carbohydrates
1 serving of protein
1 serving of fat
1 serving of fruit



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